Lessons from Gladys

Good afternoon from Westminster, MD!

Gladys, was and is still famous among the many people from Crossroads Community Church who have traveled to Nicaragua on mission trips. In fact, I think it would be accurate to say that many of these people would tell you that you have not been to Nicaragua until you meet Gladys. Gladys always comes up as people recount their trip to Nicaragua to family and friends, the stories always full of what can only be described as chuckles of joy. The stories I heard about Gladys before going to Nicaragua were great, but nothing compared to being in her presence during the hot dog lunch.

As I had been warned, and would come to find out on a firsthand basis, the pockets in Gladys’ dress were more functional than stylish, and Gladys made good use of them. From what I could count, Gladys must have had at least five or six dogs in the many pockets covering her dress, and she was still coming back for more! Gladys was going to take home as many hot dogs as she could get her hands on, and fit into her very convenient pockets.

I still smile when I recount that story. However, I am also reminded of how important the basic, practical needs are to us as human beings. Gladys was not intentionally being greedy or gluttonous, she was just trying to survive. When the basic, practical needs such as food are scarce, humans will do almost anything to get them. Gladys was no exception. For the entirety of her life, Gladys has not known from where she would get her next meal. If someone was providing an opportunity to not have to worry about that, she was taking advantage of it. Gladys did not have the option of “avoiding” hot dogs like I do. Hot dogs are food, and Gladys was truly hungry.

Having the most basic, practical needs met is vital to life. When these tangible needs are lacking it affects a person’s entire life and their outlook on the future. An inability to readily find sustenance, shelter, healthcare, and other basic needs leads to a short-term, survivalist mentality- “I have to find these things before I can worry about anything else.” Among other issues, this takes an incredible amount of time, especially in poor communities in places like Nicaragua where infrastructure is lacking. If it takes the entire day to find, or maybe just unsuccessfully look for, these basic, practical needs, when is there time to do anything else such as learn or dream about the future?

More on what the answer to this question means next time.

– James Belt


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